Eurolibrary 2.0

Where the books are the people and inspiration is one conversation away

What happens when 24 strangers, from 9 different nationalities, meet in Greece for the common purpose of sharing their most inspiring stories?

Welcome to “Euro Library 2.0”, a training course about Storytelling and Digital Communication Skills, sponsored by Erasmus + and the European Union! Eurolibrary is an Erasmus+ project based on the concept of the Human Library, where the books are the people and inspiration is one conversation away. The main aim of this project is to bring inspiration and start conversations in the local communities of Greece. The project also consisted of three different phases, each in different locations in Greece and filled with lots of activities. 

On the 22nd of September 2023, Catarina, Duarte, Luís, and Roman flew from Portugal to the north of Greece, traveling to what would reveal itself to be an amazing 12 days journey of self-discovery, inspiration, unexpected stories, funny moments, and of course, a lot of sharing and insights on how to tell a story! 

First Phase

The first phase of this adventure started in the city of Skotina, where 24 young people from around Europe stayed in a hotel by the beach, learning about storytelling in a non-formal way. The team of facilitators was wonderful and made everyone feel at home from the very first moment. We learned how to tell a story through different exercises and games like improvising a story based on random and unexpected words, mirroring someone else’s story, or even doing a storytelling performance about Greek gods!

The sessions took place in the hotel’s peaceful garden or even by the pool. We always started with stretching our bodies and doing some breathing exercises to wake up the brain before diving into the storytelling world. At the beginning of the training, the group was divided into 5 different families. But why “families” and not just “teams”? Because not only you were going to create digital content with our family during the project, but also share a mobile home (aka RV) for the next days!

About his time in Skotina, Luís remembers how the team of facilitators was so welcoming, and how amazing it was to be again next to Mont Olympus, where he had been before, back in 2009, but just as a tourist. This time felt so different and special to him, with so many different people from around Europe sharing their stories and connecting so fast. The homemade food, the beach, and the smiles are memories he will never forget!

Duarte, who is an engineering student, says he’s never been taught how to tell stories properly because it’s not something they put a lot of effort into. However, in Skotina, he realised how important it is to be a good storyteller because one can apply it to multiple dimensions of their life!

Roman says he will never forget the emotions he felt when he was hearing his storytelling partner's story, and also the emotions he felt when he was sharing his own story.

For Catarina, the time in Skotina was very insightful and helped her unlock a lot of her creativity. She will never forget the emotions she felt when telling her childhood story, or the adrenaline and excitement she felt when filming and creating videos with her team. The aqua zumba party and the morning yoga sessions at the beach are also moments she will remember.

Second Phase

After some days in Skotina, it was time to move and head to the next phase of the project. Phase 2 would consist of three days of Human Library events, each in a different city of Greece: Katerini, Naousa, and Nea Moudania.

First, we went to Katerini city, where we ate a delicious Greek homemade meal and helped in a volunteering center. There, we also learned some insights about photography and other digital communication skills. At the end of the day, and after the guided tours of our new mobile homes, we drove the RV’s to the beach of Katerini, where we would sleep for the first night as families. And to the surprise of all, there was even a fox that joined us at the beach!

The next morning, we had a tasty Greek breakfast, and we went to some high schools to talk with students about Erasmus+ projects and also promote our first event of the Human Library, happening that afternoon, in the park of Katerini. The event was magical, filled with people of all ages coming to our booth to choose a story from our catalog, and getting inspired by all the different human books!

The second day of the Human Library was in the city Naousa, where we had the chance to tell our stories to a younger audience, kids! It was very rewarding and special to not only inspire such young people but also learn from their innocence and good energy.

After the event, we had a picnic in a beautiful park filled with old trees, and we ended the day in a beautiful vineyard. There, we learned about wine by not only listening about how it was made but, of course, by also tasting a lot of it!The last day of the Human Library was in the city of Nea Moudania. There, we met not only with locals but also with other international young people with whom we had the chance to connect and share our stories. The day was filled with joy, dance, and even some tears from readers, ending in a very fun van party at the beach.

Luís, as one of the RV drivers, felt like he was living the dream! The freedom of moving around with the house on our backs, searching for the spots where we all would become books, full of inspiring stories to tell to the locals, was something completely unforgettable. He wishes this dream would have lasted longer, so he could have created a deeper and even more meaningful impact in the places where he passed. In one of the events, Luís had the chance of being chosen by a 83 year old “reader”, who not only got very inspired by Luís’ story, but also was a great source of inspiration to him. He will never forget this cheerful and happy man, who had so much to share and so many life lessons learned.

For Duarte, his favorite memory of the Human Library was the first time he told his story. It was getting late, and he still hadn’t been selected, but a family of four older people asked to read his story. The problem at first was that they didn’t speak English, and he also didn’t speak Greek. But thanks to the “Dictionaries”, a group of lovely Greek people (most of them, the organizers’ team) who served as translators, he was able to tell his story. The “Dictionaries” were important in the Human Library since a lot of the older generations in Greece didn’t speak English. And even though the people couldn’t understand a word he was saying when he was telling the story, everyone still was able to connect! Duarte will never forget the heartwarming moment when one of the listeners even got emotional while listening to his story, asking in the end if they could hug him.

For Catarina, the first day of Human Library was a day somewhat magical. She laughed a lot, danced barefoot for hours, and got deeply inspired by the atmosphere that was created by so many moments of personal sharing happening between people from so many different ages and from all around the world. Catarina will never forget the moments of telling her story to the younger ones and the image of their eyes filled with curiosity and enthusiasm while listening to her. The fox appearing on the beach and lying down on the sand close to her was without a doubt another fairy tale moment she will treasure in her heart forever.

Roman says he is very grateful and thanks the project organizers and trainers, who created a friendly atmosphere and made the project as comfortable and memorable as possible. He is also deeply grateful to each participant because thanks to them, he laughed and cried, shared, learned something new, talked excitedly and listened attentively, danced, sang, did yoga and enjoyed every moment!

Third Phase

The third and last phase of the Eurolibrary journey happened in Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece. This phase of the project was mostly focused on the creation of audiovisual materials. We got to record our story for a podcast and create videos, as well as listen to the creative processes of 4 different professional (and some of them even famous!) storytellers from Greece. With them, we learned deeper about storytelling (both oral and digital storytelling).

It was a challenging phase, since every team had to create a final video, in a very short amount of time, about topics related to the project, like the Greek culture experience throughout the project, digital storytelling for youth workers, or even how it is to live in a van with strangers!  

Luís says that going back to the city (after so many days on the road, closer to Nature) was a bit strange at first because he was also a bit stressed with the fast-paced process of creating a final video with his team, a video that was able to share with others what they had lived in the past days. But with loads of inspiration from the different famous storytellers, the process became easier and easier day by day. In the end, Luís remembers being quite proud and grateful for the whole process, because he and his team managed to get an inspiring video that not only sums up this whole experience but that they can also keep for life.

For Roman, this was the best Erasmus+ project he ever experienced, and he shares that he looks forward to seeing again everyone who made part of this special project, so everyone can share “uma grande garrafa de binho da casa” all together!

 Catarina shares that she learned a lot by not only listening to the storytellers but also by interacting with them, since the environment created during the sharing between the storytellers and the rest of the group felt very easygoing and safe. Catarina remembers feeling a lot of time pressure when creating the video, but that made her push her limits to levels of creativity she was not in touch with for a long time. She will also not forget the amount of cute street cats in the streets of Thessaloniki and the goodbye dinner with live music in the last day.

For Duarte, filming the podcast was very enjoyable, as it was his first time doing so! However, it felt quite different for him to tell his story in this way (instead of the normal oral storytelling he is more used to) because it was more like a monologue. But, because of that, he also knew no one would interrupt his train of thought while he was telling the story or answer the questions that made part of his story’s speech. Duarte also shares that this whole project felt like a dream to him and that, in the following months, he thought about it nonstop as he fell in love with this concept of learning through traveling, meeting people, and sharing life stories. He is very grateful to have met all the lovely people in the program and, most of all, to Tasos, Lazaros, Gaia and Roxy for all the sharing and kindness. To everyone who is reading this, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and travel alone because you’ll end up always learning something new and finding amazing people everywhere you go!

Eurolibrary 3.0, we are waiting for you.

Portuguese Team of Eurolibrary 2.0, 2023 Edition